AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON LEGO Sets Revealed

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Most tentpole filmmakers know that once plans start being sent to toy companies for various film tie-ins, your movie is about to be spoiled.  It’s unavoidable, really.  The toy companies need plenty of lead time to develop and produce a large amount of product, and specs start coming out in the months leading up to a film’s release.  J.J. Abrams famously fought to have the USS Vengeance toy from Star Trek Into Darkness held off until the last minute, and he and Lucasfilm/Disney are working together on Star Wars: The Force Awakens to ensure that the sure-to-be-insanely-profitable toys don’t spoil the movie.  Which leads us to today’s bit of business, the Avengers: Age of Ultron LEGO sets.  Check out what they may or may not reveal about the film after the jump.

THE WALKING DEAD Spinoff Setting Revealed to Be Los Angeles

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AMC has been rather secretive when it comes to its potential The Walking Dead spinoff.  Given that the original series is the most watched show on all of television, we knew some sort of brand extension was coming sooner or later.  Comic book creator and TV show executive producer Robert Kirkman is executive producing the potential spinoff, which is currently in the pilot stage, but details regarding how the show relates to the original have been few and far between.  We do know that the new series focuses on an entirely different group of survivors and we presumed that it would also take place in an entirely new location.  That suspicion has now been confirmed, as a new report reveals The Walking Dead spinoff setting as Los Angeles.  More after the jump.

New to Blu-ray: THE MAZE RUNNER, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, THE SKELETON TWINS, and More

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This week’s new Blu-ray releases include one of the year’s most successful YA adaptations, a reboot of a popular comic book property, an underrated indie featuring two SNL alums, and more.  Briefly:

New CINDERELLA International Trailer Features More Magic, Spectacle

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Disney has released a new international trailer for director Kenneth Branagh’s live-action Cinderella, this time with considerably more magic.  The film finds Downton Abbey alum Lily James filling the titular role, while Cate Blanchett takes on the part of the evil stepmother and Game of ThronesRichard Madden (The King of the North!) plays Prince Charming.  The first trailer wasn’t particularly encouraging as it simply looked like a scene-by-scene recreation of the animated film, but this new international trailer shows the spectacle and wonder that Branagh brings to the story in live-action form.  I’d still really like to see the version that Mark Romanek was planning, but I imagine the audience for this kind of big, sweeping, romantic iteration will be quite large.

Check out the new Cinderella trailer after the jump.  The film also stars Helena Bonham CarterHayley Atwell Stellan SkarsgardHoliday GraingerNonso Anozie and Sophie McSheraCinderella opens in theaters on March 13, 2015.

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and More Destroy Famous Cities in First PIXELS Posters

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Sony Pictures has unveiled the first Pixels posters for director Chris Columbus’ upcoming adventure film, and fans of a few arcade games in particular will recognize the principal characters on display.  The comedy stars Adam Sandler and revolves around a group of 80s arcade game champions who are called upon to help defend Earth from alien invaders who have misinterpreted our classic arcade games as a declaration of war.  Columbus has years of experience in both the comedy (Home Alone) and adventure (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) realms, and Sandler’s supporting cast is filled out by talented actors like Peter Dinklage, Michelle Monaghan, and Josh Gad, so I’m actually pretty hopeful about how this thing turns out.  This debut poster is a fine start.

Check out the first Pixels posters after the jump.  The film also stars Brian Cox and Kevin JamesPixels opens in theaters on July 24, 2015.

A Franchise Begins in New SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL Trailer

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A new trailer for director John Madden’s (Shakespeare in Love) sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been released online.  The follow-up is actually a bit meta, as Dev Patel’s Sonny sets out to franchise his popular Indian hotel by expanding and opening the aptly named Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Nearly all of the main cast from the first film returns, plus new additions Richard Gere and David Strathairn.  I found the original to be a sweet movie with a bit of a kick thanks to Maggie Smith’s zingers, and while the nature of sequels makes me doubt this follow-up will match the quality of that first film, the prospect of seeing this cast play off of each other once again is enticing enough.

Check out the new international Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel trailer after the jump.  The film also stars Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Penelope Wilton, Diana Hardcastle, Tena Desae, Lillete Dubey, and Tamsin GreigThe Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in theaters on March 6, 2015.

Christina Hendricks to Star in Cameron Crowe’s Showtime Pilot ROADIES

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While Christina Hendricks just recently wrapped shooting the final episode of Mad Men, the actress has already lined up a prestigious follow-up project.  Hendricks has joined the cast of the new Showtime pilot Roadies, which was created, written, and will be directed by filmmaker Cameron Crowe.  The show follows the day-to-day life of a successful rock tour as seen through the eyes of music’s unsung heroes, the crew members who make each show happen.  Hendricks will play a character named Shelli, the band’s production manager, who is described as “ingenious, tough, but privately emotional, married to her job… and scary-good at it.”  The cast was already filling out quite nicely with Luke Wilson, Imogen Poots, and Rafe Spall onboard, but Hendricks makes a positively excellent addition.  More after the jump.

7 Films Advance in Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar Race as INTO THE WOODS Misses the Cut

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As the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards draws nearer, the Academy has been busy announcing the contenders that are advancing in certain categories.  We’ve seen the Best Visual Effects shortlist, a few days ago we got a look at the eligible contenders for Best Original Song and Best Original Score, and today seven films advanced in the race for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.  Surprisingly, the lavish Disney musical Into the Woods failed to make the cut, as did The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (though Desolation of Smaug was left out too) and, more disappointingly, Snowpiercer.  Regardless, the seven finalists showcase a number of fantastic pieces of work from the year, from Foxcatcher’s subtle and seamless transformations to more showy work like Guardians of the Galaxy.  Even The Theory of Everything made the list.  But only three films will be nominated, so this list will be whittled down by more than half.

Check out the full list of Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar finalists after the jump, along with a bit more analysis.

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER Miniseries Moving Forward at Netflix

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Netflix has two bona fide original series hits on its hands with House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, but the streaming service is also very much in the business of “adapting” existing IP.  Netflix gave us the fourth season of Arrested Development, it premiered the fourth and final season of The Killing, and it’s also home to the sixth season of The Clone Wars.  While it continues to develop its own original programming in-house (including The Wachowski SiblingsSense8 and a slate of Marvel shows), it appears that Netflix is set to continue another existing property: Wet Hot American Summer.  We heard earlier this year that discussions were taking place to produce a TV series continuation of David Wain’s star-studded 2001 cult comedy, and now word comes that Netflix is indeed moving forward with a sequel miniseries.  More after the jump.

Mondo Unveils New Posters for THE HOBBIT, Plus Aaron Horkey’s THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

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This week marks the release of the final (we think) J.R.R. Tolkein film of the Peter Jackson era, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  In concert with the film’s debut, the folks at Mondo are releasing a few new custom prints, including The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by Ken Taylor and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug by Nicolas Delort.  The main event, though, is the final poster in artist Aaron Horkey’s three-year Lord of the Rings series, an absolutely gorgeous print for The Fellowship of the Ring.  This thing is incredibly rich with color and detail, and I imagine it’ll sell out very fast.  All three posters will be available at a random time on Tuesday, December 16th.

Get a closer look at the Hobbit Mondo posters after the jump along with Horkey’s stunning Fellowship of the Ring print. 

First KNIGHT OF CUPS Trailer Reveals Terrence Malick’s Hollywood-Set Drama Starring Christian Bale

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If you’re a fan of Terrence Malick, today is a very good day.  Earlier we learned that one of Malick’s films that he shot in 2012, Knight of Cups, is poised to debut at the Berlin Film Festival in February followed by a theatrical release later in 2015, and now the first Knight of Cups trailer has landed online.  The poetic, lyrical nature of Malick is on full display here, but this looks to be a much more hypnotic and chaotic film than his subdued, Oklahoma-set To the WonderChristian Bale leads a stellar cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, and Brian Dennehy, and the Hollywood-set story marks a pretty major change of location for Malick, whose past two features have followed the lives of people living in the south/Midwest.  And it goes without saying that Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is simply spectacular.  The slot for my most anticipated film of 2015 has now been filled.

Check out the first Knight of Cups trailer after the jump.  The film also stars Isabel Lucas, Imogen Poots, Wes Bentley, Freida Pinto, Teresa Palmer, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and the voice of Ben Kingsley and will be released in theaters sometime next year.

Rumor: BATMAN V SUPERMAN Will Directly Address MAN OF STEEL Criticisms

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We all knew Man of Steel would provoke discussion once it opened in theaters last summer.  After all, this was a major studio rebooting the most iconic superhero of all time—of course the movie was going to be a worldwide event that would get people talking.  But boy did the movie ruffle some feathers.  Passionate discussion took place in the weeks following the film’s release and just kept going, right up to this moment right here in which people are still discussing/debating the major decisions that Superman makes in the film’s final act.  While director Zack Snyder’s follow-up film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is introducing a plethora of DC Comics heroes to a new interconnected universe while also serving as a tee-up for the two-part Justice League film, new plot details suggest that the film will also be addressing some of the major Man of Steel criticisms head on.

More after the jump, but beware of possible minor spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

AMC Unveils First BETTER CALL SAUL Poster and New Teaser

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It kind of feels like Breaking Bad only just came to an end a few months ago, so it’s hard to believe that the spinoff series Better Call Saul is set to debut in less than two months.  We’ve seen a number of brief video teasers for the Bob Odenkirk-fronted series, but today AMC unveiled the first Better Call Saul poster, which actually might give us a pretty good indication of the show’s tone.  While creator Peter Gould and executive producer Vince Gilligan (the creator of Breaking Bad) initially envisioned Better Call Saul as a half-hour comedy series, the concept evolved throughout development to a one-hour series that Odenkirk describes as “85% drama, 15% comedy.”  Whatever the final tone may be, I’m incredibly curious to see if Gilligan and Gould can succeed in spinning off one of the best shows of all time.

Check out the Better Call Saul poster after the jump along with another new brief teaser video.  The two-night series premiere begins on February 8th at 10/9c.

Sundance Lineup Adds TRUE STORY with Jonah Hill and James Franco Plus Robert Redford’s A WALK IN THE WOODS; First Images Released

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The 2015 Sundance Film Festival lineup already looked pretty great, but now they’ve slated a couple more additions to make the fest even more exciting.  Director Rupert Goold’s drama True Story and director Ken Kwapis’ adaptation of the Billy Bryson novel A Walk in the Woods have both been added to the Premieres lineup, while the animated Shaun the Sheep will also screen at the festival.  True Story stars Jonah Hill as disgraced New York Times journalist Michael Finkel, who strikes up a head-spinning relationship with accused murderer Christian Longo, played by James FrancoFelicity Jones also stars in this incredibly promising drama, which is immediately one of my must-sees of the fest.  A Walk in the Woods, meanwhile, stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as an aging travel writer and his estranged high school buddy, respectively, who set out to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Check out the first True Story images, plus the first look at A Walk in the Woods, after the jump.  The 2015 Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 – February 1st.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and BIRDMAN Lead Critics Choice Awards Nominations

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Individual critics groups are starting to weigh in with their picks for the very best of the year, and now the largest group of critics has unveiled its list of nominees for the 20th Critics Choice Movie Awards.  Made up of members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Critics Choice Awards recognize films and performances from all genres, with separate categories for Comedy, Action, etc.  Leading the pack in terms of quantity is Birdman with 13 nominations, followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel which raked in 11 nominations including Ralph Fiennes for Best Actor.  The brilliant Selma also fared well with 6 nods overall, and Unbroken rebounded a bit after being shut out of SAG and the Golden Globes with 6 nominations.  Additionally, you’ll find plenty of love for Guardians of the Galaxy and Edge of Tomorrow in the Action categories.

Check out the full list of nominees after the jump.  The 2015 Critics Choice Movie Awards will be telecast live on A&E on January 15th.

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